Irene Gut Opdyke (May 5, 1918 - May 17, 2003*), received international recognition for her actions: the
Israeli Holocaust Commission named her one of the Righteous Among the Nations, a
title given to those who risked their lives by aiding and saving Jews during the
Holocaust, and so she was presented with the Israel Medal of Honor, Israel's
highest tribute, in a ceremony at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial; the
Vatican has given her a special commendation; and her story is part of a
permanent exhibit in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington,
Ms. Opdyke began to share her story only in her later years -- after hearing the Holocaust
denounced as a hoax or propaganda. For some years she traveled the country, speaking to
groups large and small, old and young, until her death in May 2003.
Irene also opened her life, through many hours of interviews, to Jennifer
Armstrong, a noted author of books for young adults, so that her story could
continue to be told.
*Various online sources offer different years of birth for Irene Gut Opdyke from 1918 to 1922. Her own biography says that she was born in 1921. However, we have it on good authority from a member of Irene's family that she was born in 1918. It would seem that even the righteous have their moments of vanity!
This biography was last updated on 03/18/2009.
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